FOURTH WAY SCHOOL

Welcome to BePeriod

Fourth way schools have existed and exist, just as schools of the three traditional ways existed and exist. But they are much more difficult to detect, because—unlike the others—they cannot be recognized by any one practice, one method, one task, or one name.

Rodney Collin Smith

Video Credits: Camera Man for Rome footage: Ollie Green | Camera Man for Brazil footage: Israel Menezes | Puppet designer: Mayra Monserrat

Students of the English Community (Visible to students only)

Current Labor

September: The Heart by Nature

Our farmer has summoned help to cut grape-clusters off a vine and tread them in a vat. Grape harvest is symbolic of work on the emotions. During this labor, we will observe our heart as it functions by nature. Here we find some of the biggest energy leaks, and the roots of many of our habitual patterns. We will focus on the three primary leaks related to the world of our emotions: identification, negativity, and inner consideration.

Although identification isn’t exclusively the fruit of the heart, it always has an emotional element; we are attracted or repelled by something. We each have some favorite identification that we are reluctant to give up, and this labor is an opportunity to find and question these personal attachments. What do we spend our time thinking about? Which subjects sweep us away? Where do we use too strong a language, enhancing our arguments with qualifiers such as ‘very,’ ‘incredibly,’ ‘absolutely’? Exaggerated language is a classic symptoms of identification.

The strongest language we use is when we express negative emotions. This is also the biggest energy leak of our cosmos. Now is an opportunity to review our habitual negative emotions and classify them. For this, we must resist their expression, otherwise we cannot observe them. Note also that only the more obvious negative emotions manifest externally; many subtle negative emotions express themselves internally, when our minds mill over accounts our hearts have formed with others. These, too, are leaks that must be caught and plugged.

Milling over accounts with others leads to the third wasteful yield of our emotional center: inner consideration, or identification with people. This is the habit of becoming overly concerned with how others perceive us. If left unchecked, a great deal of time and concern are wasted through the emotional entanglements of what others think about us.

Our task is to observe these leaks impartially as if we were studying someone else. A premature effort to change what we observe, without fully understanding what it is we are observing, results in suppression. The aim of work on emotions isn’t to suppress but to transform. For this, we must first observe impartially. This will lay the groundwork for struggling against identification, because if we observe our sleep impartially, the part in us that observes is already waking up. Transformation will be next month’s labor, where we will work on refining grape into wine.

Next Workshop

Question and Answer forum for New Students

Question and Answer forum for New Students

Since several students have joined BePeriod lately, and since on the other hand there is a core of students who’ve completed a few annual cycles, we will dedicate this next workshop for a question and answer session. Newer students are invited to pose questions to more experienced students. “On the fourth way there is not one teacher,” said George Gurdjieff; “Whoever is the elder, he is the teacher. And as the teacher is indispensable to the pupil, so also is the pupil indispensable to the teacher.” This workshop will be an opportunity both for new students to ask questions, as well as for more experienced students to formulate their verifications around the questions asked.

What is the aim of this school?

To serve as a fourth way school for practitioners worldwide. To take advantage of modern connectivity to bring together people who value the fourth way. To formulate a practical teaching that will instruct and inspire them by revisiting ancient schools from a fourth way perspective.

Current Labor

September: The Heart by Nature

Our farmer has summoned help to cut grape-clusters off a vine and tread them in a vat. Grape harvest is symbolic of work on the emotions. During this labor, we will observe our heart as it functions by nature. Here we find some of the biggest energy leaks, and the roots of many of our habitual patterns. We will focus on the three primary leaks related to the world of our emotions: identification, negativity, and inner consideration.

Although identification isn’t exclusively the fruit of the heart, it always has an emotional element; we are attracted or repelled by something. We each have some favorite identification that we are reluctant to give up, and this labor is an opportunity to find and question these personal attachments. What do we spend our time thinking about? Which subjects sweep us away? Where do we use too strong a language, enhancing our arguments with qualifiers such as ‘very,’ ‘incredibly,’ ‘absolutely’? Exaggerated language is a classic symptoms of identification.

The strongest language we use is when we express negative emotions. This is also the biggest energy leak of our cosmos. Now is an opportunity to review our habitual negative emotions and classify them. For this, we must resist their expression, otherwise we cannot observe them. Note also that only the more obvious negative emotions manifest externally; many subtle negative emotions express themselves internally, when our minds mill over accounts our hearts have formed with others. These, too, are leaks that must be caught and plugged.

Milling over accounts with others leads to the third wasteful yield of our emotional center: inner consideration, or identification with people. This is the habit of becoming overly concerned with how others perceive us. If left unchecked, a great deal of time and concern are wasted through the emotional entanglements of what others think about us.

Our task is to observe these leaks impartially as if we were studying someone else. A premature effort to change what we observe, without fully understanding what it is we are observing, results in suppression. The aim of work on emotions isn’t to suppress but to transform. For this, we must first observe impartially. This will lay the groundwork for struggling against identification, because if we observe our sleep impartially, the part in us that observes is already waking up. Transformation will be next month’s labor, where we will work on refining grape into wine.

Videos

Observing the Instinctive Center

The instinctive center is responsible for preserving our physical body, both on a day-to-day basis and on the scale of our lifetime. On a day-to-day basis, it ensures we eat, drink, breathe, rest, and so forth, to maintain our body’s proper functioning. On this scale, its activity can be observed by photographing ‘I’s of hunger, thirst, fatigue, vigor, etc. However, if these ‘I’s are not promptly appeased, they soon affect the rest of our psychology by generating moodiness, frustration, impatience, etc. These indirect consequences of our instinctive center are more subtle and difficult to observe. Subtlest of all is our instinctive center’s broader sense of preservation by monitoring our energy expenditure, calculating with whom it might be beneficial to associate, and in general, determining how to go about our lives from a survival point of view. Here, it readily encroaches upon the jurisdiction of all the other centers, prompting Ouspensky to conclude that the instinctive center is the “mind behind all the work of the organism, a mind quite different from the intellectual mind.”

Video Credits: Camera Man for Rome footage: Ollie Green | Camera Man for Brazil footage: Israel Menezes | Puppet designer: Mayra Monserrat

How does this fourth way school work?

LABORS OF THE MONTH

We follow a structured teaching called the 'Labors of the Month.' A parallel is drawn between farming and the cultivation of consciousness. As a farmer would attend to different aspects of their land each month, so does a fourth way student attend to different aspects of their psychology. This offers a unified structure for all students, while enabling enough flexibility for each to focus on their specific challenges and needs.

(If you haven't already, watch the introductory video on the Labors of the Month)

ONLINE WORKSHOPS, GROUPS & FORUMS

Communities are divided into languages (English, Spanish, Russian, etc.). Every weekend, each community meets online for a workshop related to the labor of that month. Workshops convey knowledge and set exercises. Throughout the week, students stay in daily touch via a teamwork app called slack to share questions and observations of working with these exercises.

INTERNATIONAL GATHERINGS

BePeriod gathers internationally twice a year for week-long meetings in destinations that harbor traces of fourth way schools. During the days of these gatherings we tour the sites, and students also get to know each other better. In the evenings and nights we incorporate our findings into a theatrical play. In this way, we step beyond being passive spectators and actively attempt to experience how past teachings were used to cultivate consciousness in their participants.

What is the Fourth Way?

The three ways of developing consciousness correspond to the three brains of our psychology: the body, the emotions and the mind. The first way brings awareness and discipline to the body, the second to the emotions, and the third to the mind. A fourth way school brings awareness and discipline to all three brains simultaneously.

How is the Be Pyramid constructed?

The evolution of man’s consciousness is divided into topics and spread on a pyramid based on their relation to each other.

The Pyramid is divided into five steps: the realization of man’s undeveloped consciousness at the base; the self-knowledge required for developing consciousness above that; and the disciplines that actualize its development at the top. The summit designates conscious man, a man able to govern himself, to be conscious, to Be.

All ancient schools expressed this conscious evolution allegorically, symbolically, or literally. The Be pyramid synthesizes these many expressions into a single whole.

Buddhist School

The first step of the pyramid is illustrated by an episode from the life of Prince Siddhartha called The Great Departure. Siddhartha grows up in a confined and conditioned environment unknowingly. His gradual realization of his prison is symbolic of the first step of evolution: we too must realize our unconsciousness and the possibility of attaining consciousness; our conditioned knowledge and the possibility of acquiring more precise knowledge; our enslavement to morality and the need of awakening conscience.

Judeo-Christian School

The second step of the pyramid is illustrated by the Biblical Creation. The Creation is viewed as an allegorical expression of our micro-cosmos. “Let there be light” represents the light of self-observation; “separating the light from the darkness” represents separating the true from the false within us; naming the objects of creation represents naming the many habits we observe, based on the brain from which they originate. Nature creates us as incomplete beings – incomplete cosmoses – and leaves us to develop further by our own efforts. The Biblical Creation portrays allegorically what we must achieve in practice.

Hindu School

The last three steps of the pyramid are illustrated by the myth of the Churning of the Milky ocean. In this myth, Vishnu winds a giant serpent around mount Mandara and instructs the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) to tug at this serpent, so as to use the mountain as a churning rod with which to churn the ocean of milk. The habits we observed on the second step now play the role of asuras, and are counterbalanced by disciplines which we form through our work. This internal tug-of-war develops our will, and generates the energy needed for transforming our identity from fragmented thoughts, emotions and impulses, into a permanent consciousness that is able to Be.

20th Century Authors on Fourth Way Schools

A fourth way school demands understanding before anything else. Results of efforts are always proportional to understanding.

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

A magnetic centre that brings one to a Yogi school or a monastery is different from the magnetic centre that brings one even to a group that may possibly lead to a Fourth Way school. With that kind of magnetic centre one would not be able to work here: people would not have enough initiative. In the religious way they must obey. In this way people must have broader minds, they must understand.

Peter Demianovich Ouspensky

Fourth way schools have existed and exist, just as schools of the three traditional ways existed and exist. But they are much more difficult to detect, because—unlike the others—they cannot be recognized by any one practice, one method, one task, or one name.

Rodney Collin Smith

The fourth way is never without some work of a definite significance, is never without some undertaking around which and in connection with which it can alone exist. When this work is finished… the fourth way disappears from the given place, disappears in its given form, continuing perhaps in another place in another form. Fourth way schools exist for the needs of the work which is being carried out in connection with the proposed undertaking. They never exist by themselves as schools for the purpose of education and instruction.

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

The Fourth Way must always be related to the varying circumstances of life and can never become fixed and habitual. Suddenly it may be necessary to alter the whole external scheme of things.

Maurice Nicoll

The work itself of schools of the fourth way can have very many forms and many meanings… The quicker a man grasps the aim of the work which is being executed, the quicker can he become useful to it and the more will he be able to get from it for himself.

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff defined ‘schools’ as organizations that exist for the purpose of transmitting to the ‘Outer Circle’ – that is, ordinary people – the knowledge and powers that originate in the ‘Inner Circle’… The Fourth Way would have no meaning if there were not an ‘Inner Circle’ to which it leads.

John Godolphin Bennett

An organization that can be called a fourth way school is an organization which introduces three forces into its work.

Peter Demianovich Ouspensky

In schools of the Fourth Way it was found that the best conditions for study and work on oneself are a man’s ordinary conditions of life, because from one point of view these conditions are easier and from another they are the most difficult.

Peter Demianovich Ouspensky

A student of a fourth way school works in the midst of life, is surrounded by all the misfortunes of life, and eventually life becomes his teacher.

Maurice Nicoll